Online casinos are legal in the Baltics, so you can have fun playing games like roulette, blackjack, and poker at numerous licensed sites from domestic and international operators. But how do online casino regulations compare between Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia? Let us take a look.
What are online casino regulations like in other European countries?
The Baltic countries actually have fairly similar regulations when it comes to online casinos, whereas many other European countries have much more varying rules. For instance, in Sweden, you can play at great online casinos like Kazoom. But for a casino to operate in Sweden, it must secure a license and follow the Swedish Gambling Act. Once licensed, it is continually monitored by the Swedish Gambling Authority. Meanwhile, in Germany, online gaming has very complex and strict regulations, but basically, German citizens are prohibited from accessing online casinos that provide poker, blackjack, roulette, slots, and sports betting. Then there is the United Kingdom, which has some of the freest regulations in Europe. Online casinos have been legal since the 2005 Gambling Act was introduced. All gambling activities are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Now, let us take a look at how casino regulations compare in the Baltics.
When a new law came into effect in Lithuania on January 1, 2016, online gambling was regulated in the country for the first time. Online casinos are regulated by the Gaming Control Authority. In order for a domestic online casino to be licensed to operate in Lithuania, the operator must also own a land-based casino. For companies operating from within the European Economic Area, they can receive an online casino license as long as they operate at least one land-based casino, five horse betting parlours, and ten slot machine halls. Also, since the first online casinos opened in Lithuania in 2016, Lithuanian authorities have been blacklisting websites offering illegal gambling opportunities to protect and regulate the domestic market. Advertising for online gambling is regulated, too. There is a ban on advertising for most gambling services, yet many unlicensed operators still do advertise illegally and end up paying hefty fines.
Online gambling, including online casinos and sports betting, has been legalised and regulated in Estonia since 2010 for local operators and since 2011 for foreign operators. Each operator must secure a license from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. Since the beginning of the last decade, numerous domestic and international operators have launched successful online casinos and sports betting sites in Estonia. Before the new gambling act, online gambling activities were undefined and unregulated. Now, all online casinos are licensed and officially monitored. Furthermore, Estonia actively blocks unlicensed online casinos from attempting to offer their services to Etonians. All online casinos operating in the country must pay 5% tax, which is very low compared to other countries.
The Control Department of the Latvian government regulates all gambling activities in the country; although operators acquire their licenses from the government’s Legal Department. The online casino industry was unregulated in Latvia until 2006. But with the introduction of 2006’s Gambling and Lotteries Law, online casino gambling is now legal and regulated. In addition to licensing online casinos, Latvia’s Gambling and Lotteries Law has lots of strict rules that operators must adhere to, such as reaching minimum set amounts on returns for certain games. Also, to ensure tight regulation, every online casino in Latvia must re-register with the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection each year. Prior to 2014, it was actually quite easy for unlicensed online betting sites to operate in Latvia, but that changed when Latvia followed Estonia’s example by creating a blacklist of all unlicensed platforms and blocking them from operating illegally. So, whether you play at a licensed online casino in Lithuania, Estonia, or Latvia, you can be sure it is safe and officially regulated.